We are making history tonight in that we have gathered here to honour the prospective graduates of the Jackson College of Journalism, who will receive their baccalaureate degrees in a few days. This incident will be history in the making, because for the first time in the annals of West Africa, an indigenous university will endorse the professional competence of journalists who have passed through the crucible of systematic university education.
In 1965, the department graduated ten students. In 1966, it produced twelve graduates, and in 1967, just on the eve of the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War, it graduated fifteen students. This progress was, however, momentarily halted by the ravages of the civil war which reduced the college to a ghost of its former self by robbing it of its facilities and its entire founding academic staff.
However, the college came back to life once more in 1970 after the civil War with its own products as new academic staff. This time, the name Jackson college of Journalism was replaced with the Department of Mass Communication to reflect the department’s new course offerings.
To complete the newness circuit, the departmental newspaper, – the Nsukka Record, was revived in 1971 with the name- The Record. The year 1971 was another milestone on the road to progress because it marked the production of the first batch of the department’s post-war graduates after the wreckage of the war.
The Name Jackson
The department was originally named the Jackson College of Journalism as a tribute to John Payne Jackson, a courageous newspaper editor who founded the “Lagos weekly Record” in 1891. A daring journalist, Jackson used his paper to attack the exploitative and obnoxious policies of the colonial government.
When John Payne Jackson died in 1915, his son, Horatio Jackson, took over the newspaper and continued in the footsteps of his father. It was in appreciation of the monumental contributions of John Payne Jackson that the department was named Jackson College of Journalism.
It has been noted earlier that the year 1971 represents an important milestone in the annals of the department in that it marked the beginning of the blossoming of the department into a gigantic school of mass communication. From that year to date, the performance of the department could be likened to an inverted pyramid, denoting a mustard seed growth pattern.
In 1990, the department made a detailed review of its programme in response to the demands of the standards set by the National Universities Commission (NUC). This elaborate review further enriched the curriculum with innovative offerings in print and electronic journalism, marketing communications, philosophy of communication, history and development of the mass media systems with particular reference to the Nigerian mass media, law and ethics of mass communication, mass communication research and theories, and photojournalism. These course areas and others are continually being enriched with latest studies. This pace-setting strategy, which is a tradition of the department, has continued to power it to the lofty heights of mass communication. Accordingly, the department revised its undergraduate programme again in 2008 to accommodate the demands of new communication technologies, which were in fact attempting to redefine mass communication.
In 2007 the department started a PGD programme and revised its Master’s degree programme. It is worthy of note that the Department of Mass Communication of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka has been living up to its expectations in the competitive field of communication merchandizing. The bi-focal role of the department as a pioneer and a pace-setter in sub-Saharan African journalism becomes clearer when one realizes that the department was the lone-ranger until the middle sixties, when the University of Lagos joined it in offering degree programme in journalism. Who could imagine that a department which started without a building and even when a building was eventually provided, had to use the floor for furniture, could start and never stop. What could engineer such a progress except a resolute determination arising from an insight of a visionary Zik of Africa?
Student Academic Advising
The university has provision for student academic advising. At the beginning of every session, new students are appropriately listed against the names of academic advisers, while the older students continue with their former advisers. The academic advisers provide orientation and guidelines for course requirements for an academic session and would normally attend to any other academic matter that may arise. Details may be found under the headline ‘Academic Advising,’ P. 34 of the University of Nigeria Academic Regulations.
Handling of Academic Grievances
On academic matters, the university has provision for reports on academic grievances on academic matters in relation to students’ welfare. Usually, ways of addressing grievances if they pertain to examination are provided for, adequately, since an aggrieved student can sue for remarking of his/her scripts in the case of suspected or alleged victimization. Where such grievances do not pertain to examinations, students are free to consult with their academic advisers and write directly to the HOD upon which an appropriate committee looks into the case and reports accordingly to the departmental board for final decision.